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Holiday review by Kay Melville

Date of trip: 02/10/2015
Number of people: 2
Country: South Africa

Overall level of Satisfaction

Tribes Overall: "Our Sabi Sands adventure, based at Leopard Hills vastly surpassed expectations! Everything from the amazing game drives, wonderful staff and accommodation to the superb food was absolutely 5*! Not a single 'could do better' . Sadly our experience was not repeated at Maradiva Villas in Mauritius, however overall we had a wonderful holiday."
Tribes Service: "Sinead was very helpful and gave great advice about where we should safari at this time of year. Everything we needed for our travels arrived in plenty of time. Sinead then resent me all the 'stuff' I had left behind in our UK house! This is the first time we have felt the need to use a travel consultant and we are very glad we did! "
Guides: "Reese was brilliant! His knowledge was most impressive and he was able to answer any questions asked of him. He drove us over scarily rough terrain with great skill and only had to dig us out once! When it was too dark to see anything he then turned off all the lights and gave us a lesson on the stars! Justice, our tracker, was a delight and between him and Reece they found us everything we were looking for and we witnessed countless wonderful sightings. "
Social & Environmental Responsibility: "Local staff were employed and schooling provided for local children. All staff and guides were very mindful of the wildlife and local environment."


Leopard Hills Private Game Reserve
Stunning position, gorgeous villas with private deck and plunge pool looking out over the bush, wild animals meandering past.......what's not to like?? All the staff were brilliant but we must mention a few by name, Sam the restaurant manager and Admire, Chris and Neville, waiters, couldn't do enough. Staff were always waiting with cold towels and cocktails when we returned from our game drives. The chefs are also wonderful and we ate three delicious meals every day we were there, two evenings eating in the atmospheric 'boma'. And we daren't walk back to our lodge alone in the dark without getting in to trouble from the charming Mandela!
Maradiva Villas
This place was such a disappointment after our Leopard Hills experience. The good points are that the staff were very friendly and helpful and the setting is lovely. Gardens and the beach are very well kept and the villas have been stunning at one time but are very tired. Peeling veneer, stained furniture, both sinks in our en suite had large cracks, lampshades tilted as the fittings were damaged, three light bulbs were not working for the entire week. Our bedroom floor creaked loudly and I was woken every night when my husband got up to visit the bathroom. The floor was only cleaned once during our visit and I suspect that was because we were present that day. We dined in our outdoor lounge/dining room one evening and the waiter spilled some lobster broth on the floor. This still hadn't been washed by the time we left 6 days later. Alcohol was extortionate, one single gin and tonic from the beach bar at lunchtime was US$30 and a can of diet coke from the minibar $9. Wine in the restaurants also had a massive mark up. We found one of the wines in a local supermarket for only a few dollars. The food was uninspiring at best with the same menu at lunch time and dinner and also room service. Tepanyaki was hugely disappointing, the food was pleasant enough but the restaurant lacked atmosphere and the chef only cooked the main course on the grill before leaving. None of the usual 2 hours of entertainment and delicious food that I associate with Tepanyaki. The Indian was very ordinary too, also my Goan prawn curry was downright unpleasant. Maybe just a bad choice on my part but we do eat in a lot of Indian restaurants, one a Michelin starred one, I had kind of expected similar food! Also my husband had food poisoning for two days. I did tell the restaurant manager about this and he seemed quite perturbed so I assume action was taken. Of course the cause could have been completely out with their control, there were a lot of flies around. For a five star establishment breakfast was also disappointing with poor service (they were either understaffed or undertrained) and substandard food. (What is the point of having a label with 'champagne' and a Pommery ice bucket if there's never any there?) I ordered some bacon and a sausage with my scrambled egg and received at least 20 rashers of bacon and 4 sausages, all on separate plates!! We spoke to the residents manager while we were there to give some constructive criticism and he did listen attentively and take notes. Overall we got the impression that the owner wasn't willing to invest the money needed to upgrade the establishment despite the fact that there is an indication on Trip Advisor that the upgrade had started about a year ago. On discovering the average salary of the staff he is obviously using the place as something of a cash cow!

Our Memories

"We were thrilled to come across a leopard up a tree with her kill, protecting her bounty from the hyaena waiting below. We also witnessed another leopard and her cub having a very recent kill stolen by a hyaena. Being in among the family of elephants was wonderful. We were also lucky enough to see the 'big five' all in one evening drive. The G&T at sunset each evening, always in a beautiful setting, was a lovely surprise! I also loved the 'Disney Seats' in the back of the land rover 😂. The other company we had plus great guide (Reece) and tracker (Justice) really completed our trip. We were never, ever bored!! From the majestic and beautiful giraffes to the shy zebras who eluded us till our last day we were enthralled!"

customer rating

5/5 from 82 reviews

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facts and information

Time: GMT +2 hours

Flight time: There are daily flights from Europe to Johannesburg (about 10 ½ hours direct) and Cape Town (about 11 hours). There is also a good network of domestic flights connecting all main towns.

Language: English is South Africa's main administrative language and is widely spoken. There are also 11 official tribal languages.

Visas: Visas are not required for British passport holders.

Health: No vaccinations are compulsory. Malaria is found in certain areas (mainly Kruger and the east coast towards Mozambique), but not throughout the country.



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